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The Percussionist - A Quintessential Musician

How is a drum solo like a sneeze? You can tell it’s coming, but you can’t do anything about it.

Yes, I’ve heard them all and you probably have too – jokes about percussion players can be harsh and downright mean! However, percussion is a crucial instrument – it is a big part of the modern day music we all enjoy and it can be found in almost every ensemble we have in our Music program at Ambrose Treacy College.

It is culturally diverse and has inspired humans from the dawn of civilisation, with the earliest forms of music most likely being drum-based. Percussion is not just one instrument – it is many. It includes all instruments you hit, shake or scrape to make a sound, from the triangle to the timpani. They essentially keep rhythm, make interesting sounds and add excitement and colour to music. Many assume that percussion is easy, but it takes serious dedication to achieve mastery of the wide range of instruments in the percussion family.

Playing percussion is a multi-faceted experience, using your entire body to engage with the instrument. Learning the skills and techniques develops valuable proficiencies such as motor skills, dexterity, coordination, confidence and discipline. Check out these studies looking at how it develops the brain. Percussion has really taken off at Ambrose Treacy College and this year has been filled with palpable excitement, both for me and the boys. Percussion students have spread like wildfire through the program, supporting our junior through to senior groups, with the largest number of boys ever taking up the instrument.

This year we started a Junior Percussion Ensemble to complement the Senior Percussion Ensemble, and both groups are working on challenging and exciting repertoire. It’s so great to see all the boys enjoying these rehearsals and I do believe they are a highlight of their week. Special mention to the new junior boys for a great start to their musical journey. I’m proud of the standard the boys have achieved and it is wonderfully rewarding as their teacher to see them flourish and reach the goals we set throughout the year.

We are currently working towards concerts at school and the Queensland Catholic Schools’ and Colleges’ Music Festival in August. I greatly value the support of Mr Bond, who assists at all percussion ensemble rehearsals and greatly enhances the experiences and outcomes for the boys. We are also fortunate to have Mr Charters as the drum kit teacher, and it’s great to see the boys inspired by a professional musician so active in the industry.

The ATC Taiko drumming group also forms part of our cultural program. This program has really taken off and positions in the group are hotly contested at the start of each year. The boys are always learning new rhythms and repertoire and are ready to perform at events at school and externally. The future is looking bright for the ATC percussion family. It is already playing a massive role at ATC and it is only going to continue to grow and thrive.

Michael Bannon
Co-curricular Music Teacher – Percussion